Pasta al forno sounds a lot more fancy than it is, but it is the perfect Italian dish to serve for a large gathering or busy weeknight. Al forno is just an Italian term for foods cooked or baked in the oven. Dishes like baked ziti or rigatoni fall into this category. All that rich and tangy marinara sauce and bubbly cheese mixed with your choice of noodles and a hearty protein is baked until it is deliciously satisfying. But when it comes to this meal, not all pasta noodles are created equally and you need to choose wisely.
While we love angel hair pasta or a lovely tagliatelle, these noodles are just not the right fit for baked pasta. Per MasterClass, if you are cooking up pasta al forno, you want to choose a short pasta that has some ridges and valleys. This is why rigatoni, ziti, penne, or rotini are a common go-to for this dish. Why?
It's All About The Sauce
When it comes to pasta al forno, you need the shorter pasta with ridges because they are able to hold the sauce better than those noodles shaped like strings and ribbons. Those valleys and peaks of the shorter pasta noodles create the perfect surface area to trap that red sauce, bits of meat, and cheese so you get a little bit of everything with each mouthful. The end result is a cohesive, beautiful meal.
This is the same reason kinds of pasta like fusilli and penne rigate - which simply means the pasta has ridges - are perfect for salads and all types of casseroles. But beyond all those beautiful nooks and crannies, short pasta tends to cook more evenly when making this dish because of its uniform thickness and size. This means you don't have to worry about some of your pasta al forno being overcooked or undercooked.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.